Team leader: USC, 8-under-par 568
Individual leader: Patrick Cantlay, UCLA, 8-under-par 136
In position (the next four): 2. UCLA (572), 3. Ohio State (579), 4. SMU (583), 5. San Diego (584), 5. Texas (584)
Chasing (still work to do): 7. Middle Tennessee State (585), 8. Tulsa (586)
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L.A. story: USC has a four-shot lead entering the final round in San Diego. It’s a nice position to be in, but not nearly as good as the 15-shot lead the Trojans held at one point Friday. The Trojans are being led by Steve Lim, who’s in second place individually after rounds of 68-71.
USC, coming off a victory at the Pac-10 Championship, is one of the hottest teams in the country. They finished last at NCAA Championship site Karsten Creek at the Ping/Golfweek Preview in the fall, though.
Cross-town rivals USC and UCLA seem to have their NCAA Championship berths all but locked up. USC is 16 shots ahead of fifth place, and 11 shots ahead of third place. UCLA is 12 shots ahead of fifth place and seven shots ahead of third.
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Bucking the trend: Ohio State’s 279 Friday was the low round of the day by six shots, and moved the Buckeyes up from 11th to third. It also was 21 shots better than their opening 300. Michael Cress shot 68, Dan Charen shot 69 and Brad Smith shot 70 for the Buckeyes. On the first day, the Buckeyes counted four 75s, from Cress, Charen, Smith and Bo Hoag, who shot 72 Friday. The Buckeyes are coming off a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championship.
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Short shots: It’ll be a tight race for the final spots at The Farms Golf Club. Eight teams, battling for the final two spots, are separated by five shots. … San Diego, the site’s host, is in fifth place thanks to the contributions of its Nos. 4 and 5 players. Manav Shah, the team’s fourth player, is tied for fifth at 2-under 142. USD’s No. 5, Kenneth McCready, is T-15. USD’s top two players, Alex Ching and Gunner Wiebe, are 55th and T-56, respectively. Each has been the team’s throw-out score in one of the rounds. … SMU’s 288 Friday was seven shots better than its opening round. One reason? The team’s No. 1 player, Kelly Kraft, was eight shots better than Thursday. Kraft shot 69 Friday after shooting 77 in the first round.
– Sean Martin